by Dr. Douglas Major is Superintendent/CEO of Meridian Technology Center, which serves residents of parts of Lincoln, Logan, Noble, Pawnee and Payne counties
Virtually every aspect of our economy has felt the impact of COVID-19. The last few months have been unpredictable. We’ve seen an unprecedented shift in everything from education to industry. It has been painful to watch small businesses close their doors and large companies lay off employees. Families have suffered, communities have suffered and our state and nation have suffered.
Meridian Technology Center’s role has always been to help communities thrive through a highly trained workforce. In this time of economic uncertainty, when there are still more questions than answers, I want to assure you that Meridian and Oklahoma’s CareerTech system are committed to providing career training to help individuals and businesses regain what has been lost.
As one of 29 technology centers across the state, Meridian is your local economic partner. Whether we are training the next generation of workers while they are in high school or retraining adults for a new career or advancement in their current job, Meridian and CareerTech help Oklahomans get in-demand skills training for real-world jobs without lifelong debt.
Our system’s flexibility is what enables us to quickly create and implement career training to close skills gaps that exist. This type of responsiveness is what led to the implementation of Meridian’s two newest programs – Energy and Power, and Facilities Management.
Our system’s agility has also led us to pursue alternative delivery methods for our flexible, professional development short courses. Recent examples of this include implementing online courses that help people prepare for our Practical Nursing and Radiologic Technology programs, providing no-cost webinars to improve computer skills and moving Technovation4Education and Leadercast to virtual platforms.
In the days following the governor’s emergency declaration, we saw business after business reduce their services, lay off or furlough their workforce and, for many, make the difficult decision to close their doors. Knowing the financial impact small businesses were experiencing, as well as the uncertainty that was ahead, Meridian’s Business and Industry Services team reached out to ask how we as your local training partner and CareerTech as a system could provide rapid response through these troubling economic times.
The result of those conversations includes creating and hosting the “In This Together” virtual town halls for business owners and community leaders in both Stillwater and Guthrie as well as offering no-cost COVID-19 online safety training focused on how businesses can protect employees and customers as they reopen. Listening to the need of employees and employers also led to the creation of Be READY, a program to help people bolster their résumé for re-employment.
As the state begins to reopen and businesses begin to resume operations, I hope that you will look to Meridian and CareerTech to help you or your business thrive once again. We are ready and able to offer support and customized training that will help employees and employers obtain the skills and the workforce they need to once again power Oklahoma’s economy.